Features / Friday Night / Review

John Talabot – fIN

John Talabot - fin

On summer nights the air in Barcelona is thick, densely warm. Carnival sounds dart around alley corners, the unlit alleys are dark with shadows. There is a sense of the jungle. Talabot’s debut album, fin, emerges out of the jungle with oozing tropicalia and cicadas behind the opening track, at once inviting dance and hinting at danger. There is a certain amount of danger on these tracks. Talabot’s sound is hard to locate, almost dismisses location. It’s house music, yes, and it’s deep, but it’s also expertly crafted around mournful pop structures, chanting, submerged vocals and insistent techno pulses.

These are precise tracks. The attention to detail, however, gives way to structure of the songs behind these tracks. Or, perhaps, the attention is on the detail of what is behind the songs. These tracks sound like the edges, the corners of pop songs, focused on with minute attention. Talabot’s sonic pallet is therefore bewildering, but subtle: the hints of the tropical, the analogue wooziness, and the incisive, mechanical digital. But there is almost a lo-fi aesthetic to this craft. Hints of glitch irrupt into the structures.

Talabot hints at danger. The tracks are positioned like the shadows of songs, and the songs fall into those shadows. The opening ‘Depak Ine’ is certainly a highlight. The track is crafted around expanding layers, combining sounds in a kind of alchemy. This aesthetic is carried on throughout the album, but the style shifts mercurially. The album seems to undo itself, in this way, with each track taking off from the last, but somehow erasing it. The tracks refuse to combine. This lack of harmony is not detrimental to the overall effect. There appears to be an attempt at hints of violence which leaks into the songs by these shadowy, glitch moments, and in this refusal to focus on a style. The disco beat which opens ‘When the Past was Present’, for example, relents to the pressure of the house rhythm which emerges in the track. The next track, ‘H.O.R.S.E’ then shudders in with quivering percussion and bass; from which ooze somehow emerges a harmonic, energetic melody, the gesture of a song. And the result is disorientating, almost violent, but – like the whole album – somehow perfectly, excitingly, and brilliantly danceable.

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